KIRRALEE Bull’s profession as a primary school teacher can prove “either a help or a hindrance” when it comes to choosing baby names.
“You imagine in your mind what certain names look like,” Mrs Bull said.
Miraculously, she had not taught a Henry, Leo or an Evie at the time she and her English-born husband Adam gave the names to each of their three children.
The Valentine couple prepared a shortlist of names before each birth, but were surprised when Henry, now five, wasn’t a girl as they expected. He was given his name at three days old.
“We loved that Henry was a traditional, solid, English name that reflected his background,” she said.
“I did not like many other boys names, so I wasn’t budging on Henry!”
Mrs Bull said her husband took the lead in suggesting Leo for their second son, now two, which hadn’t appeared on their lists when they were choosing names for Henry.
“We thought it was kind, but still strong.”
Their choice of Evie for their daughter, who is now one, was also different to the girls names they’d been considering for Henry.
“We felt it was so pretty and feminine, plus it matched her brothers,” she said.
“You have to look at the baby as well to see if the name suits them.”
The Bull children’s carefully chosen names are some of the most beloved across the state, with all three featuring in the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages’ (BDM) 20 most popular names of 2017.
Henry sits at 6th, Leo is 14th and Evie scrapes in at 19th.
The list is topped by Oliver – for the fourth year in a row – and Charlotte, followed by William and Olivia, Noah and Ava, Jack and Amelia, James and Mia, Henry and Isla, Thomas and Chloe, Lucas and Grace, Ethan and Ella and Alexander and Zoe.
But don’t think these will be the only names to dominate Hunter classrooms come 2023.
BDM data for the five most-populated suburbs in five of the region’s local government areas reveal significant deviations, particularly for boys, from the statewide norm.
Lake Macquarie was the only area where both Oliver and Charlotte held on to their crown, to be followed by William and Evie.
Tyler was the area’s sixth most popular name for boys, despite only reaching 59th across NSW.
Stella was eighth most popular for girls, but 45th across the state.
In Newcastle, Henry pushed Oliver out of the top spot and down to 6th, but Charlotte held on as most popular for girls.
Harrison and Ivy were the second most popular, despite ranking 13th and 18th across the state.
Dylan was the ninth most popular for boys, but 67th across NSW.
In Cessnock, Oliver didn’t make the top 10 and Charlotte only came in at eighth.
Instead, Noah and Evie were number one, followed by Jaxon and Willow, which are 46th and 21st most popular across the state.
Blake was the fourth most popular for boys, but didn’t make an appearance on the state’s top 100.
Lincoln was fifth most popular but 50th across NSW, Phoenix was eighth most popular but 100th across NSW and Ashton was 10th most popular but 55th across the state.
In Maitland, William and Amelia held the top spots, with Oliver and Charlotte ranking fourth and 10th.
Alexander and Isla were the second most popular.
Theodore was fifth, despite being 37th in NSW, Logan was sixth, even though it was 36th in the state, Flynn was eighth despite being 63rd in NSW and Jaxon was ninth.
In Port Stephens, Oliver and Mia were number one, followed by William and Olivia.
Austin and Addison were third most popular, compared to 66th and 78th in the state.
Logan was fifth. Lincoln and Summer were ninth despite being 50th and 61st across NSW.
Wyatt was 10th, despite not making the state’s top 100.
Mrs Bull said she “wasn’t concerned” at the increasing popularity of her children’s names.
“They’re nice names, so they’re always going to be nabbed, aren’t they?” she said.
“A name is a name, they’ve got their own little personalities and that’s what makes them them.
“There’s so many people in this world that you’re going to come across someone with the same name eventually.”
For Diarn Benson and Beau Cheetham of Kilaben Bay, their new son’s name was both an homage to an inspiration and the combination of traditional but not overly popular.
Ms Benson gave birth on Tuesday afternoon to a baby boy called Jesse, a name she considered early in her pregnancy but “pushed aside” after thinking her partner wouldn’t like it.
“But a few days later he suggested the same name – one of his idols is Jesse James and that’s where he got his passion for cars and motorbikes from,” she said.
“It was a pretty unanimous decision and it fits him perfectly.
“We like that it’s a traditional kind of name but not something around at the moment – it was more common 20 years ago. It’s unique for now, definitely.”
Jesse is younger brother to Skarlett, aged two, whose name is the same as one of Mr Cheetham’s musically influential friends.
“He had that name picked out for years, before he even considered having a child and before I’d met him,” she said.
“He liked that it was unique. I never had a girls name picked out so was quite happy to go with it and it fit her beautifully.”
Prue and Matthew Merrin of Salt Ash allowed their older daughter Sara, 4, to pick the name of their newborn, who arrived at John Hunter Hospital on Wednesday morning.
As soon as Sara was told she was getting a younger sister, she started calling the baby Ellie.
The family has been secretly using the name among themselves for months.
“We did not want to disappoint her, so we kept it,” she said.
“I like the fact that she’s so in love with it and it’s something special for them together.”
Mrs Merrin said she remembered having pyjamas as a five year old with ‘Ellie the elephant’.
Mrs Merrin said her husband liked common and traditional names, while she preferred names that were slightly different.
Their six year old son is Kobi and Sara is pronounced Zara.
“Instead of having weeks of arguments about changing it and who should pick it, we thought it would be easier to let Sara do it and us all meet in the middle.”
Hospital staff told the Herald that six babies born last week were all named Van, with one short for Sullivan.
The most popular names in 2007 were Jack and Isabella, in 1997 Joshua and Jessica, in 1987 Matthew and Jessica, in 1977 Michael and Rebecca, in 1967 David and Michelle and in 1957 Peter and Jennifer.
The BDM list of top baby suburbs based on mother's home address at time of birth had Blacktown in first place in 2017 with 801 babies.
Charlestown was the highest ranking Hunter suburb (80th) with 189 babies, followed by Cessnock (88th) and Muswellbrook (89th) both with 181.
Auburn held the top spot in 2012 with 897 babies.
The highest ranking Hunter suburb then was Cessnock (75th) with 213 babies and Muswellbrook (84th) with 201 babies.
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